No, you actually don’t have to ask…
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Oh, just another day in the Los Angeles Lakers locker room. Reporters took notes while the Lake Show prepared for the shortened season with some free throws and rebounding drills.
And then someone decided to ask Pau Gasol an inappropriate question regarding Kobe Bryant’s personal life.
“I have to ask, because we are reporters and this is our job, but there’s a lot of rumors out there — there’s a lot of reports out there — about Kobe’s divorce. Do you know anything about that?” asked the off-camera voice.
An overall great day at work, I’d say. The question and Gasol’s response may not find a place in the sports pages, but at least there’s a camera and a YouTube account to feed that insatiable beast. Because gossip is the new name of the game.
I have to say, because I have a blog and a platform, that the reporter’s preface to that inappropriate question doesn’t justify her reasoning. Divorce is a personal matter, which Gasol should have no comment about, and doesn’t require any kind of inquiry — especially while all the details were just “rumors … reports.”
Is this really what you want to accomplish with your credentials and access? Terrible question, and my compliments to Gasol for doing the best he could in the moment.
We can discuss media ethics in this situation, and any lines the reporter may have crossed in her shallow attempt to manufacture a story with a salacious quote. But the crux of my beef is with the standard we hold athletes to that doesn’t apply in any other facet of our lives.
We all have opinions on divorce, and they likely vary on a case-by-case basis in accordance with our perception of the questioned marriage’s quality. These aren’t opinions we express freely. No one logically volunteers information at the water cooler about why Melissa filed for divorce from Peter — unless they’re vain and foolish.
And therein lies the problem. The reporter assumed Gasol for a fool. Not because it was her job, but because she hoped to catch Gasol speaking without thinking. His facial expression alone shows that she broke the news to him. Or maybe he was shocked that she actually brought it up, as if he could be the typical romantic-comedy friend who devises an intricate plot to reconcile Kobe and Vanessa’s differences.
None of this is to say that there aren’t ways to discuss how Kobe’s personal life could impact his performance and the Lakers who rely on him. But maybe the season could start first? Maybe a columnist can wait for an awful Kobe performance to ask how heavily the divorce is weighing on him?
And then — maybe, just maybe — this reporter can ask Gasol if he thinks Kobe’s head is in the game. That might make a pretty good story if you need to file something that writes itself.
The fact that this clip came from the Los Angeles Times is most disappointing. It’s this kind of questioning that lends credence to TMZ’s style of sloppy reporting and traffic-grabbing headlines. They’re not even giving journalism a chance.